DILG backs UE campus journalist, slams govt. critics

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 8) — The Interior Department came to the defense of the University of the East (UE) campus publication editor, following reports that he was threatened with a cyber libel case by his high school teachers.

In a statement Wednesday, DILG Spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said UE Dawn Editor-in-Chief Joshua Molo did not err when he aired his opinion on the government's response to COVID-19 on social media.

He highlighted that Molo "is entitled to free speech."

"The DILG supports the right of Filipinos to free expression. That's a fundamental human right that is protected by the Constitution," Malaya said.

He said what he cannot accept is how the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and Karapatan had once again put the blame on the Philippine government, when it had "nothing to do with the issue" in the first place.

"But we cannot understand why CEGP and Karapatan are again accusing the national government of allegedly suppressing the rights of Molo. The government was never involved here. It was Molo's high school teachers who allegedly pressured him and not the government," Malaya pointed out.

"This is clearly another way of misinformation to malign and blame everything on the government, [when] we should instead be working together to fight the common enemy, the coronavirus," he added.

The DILG spokesperson said the organizations seem to only want to take advantage of the situation at hand.

"Halatang-halata na nakikisawsaw lamang sila sa isyung ito in order to pounce on every opportunity to discredit the government," he said.

[Translation: It is apparent that they are only interfering in this issue in order to pounce on every opportunity to discredit the government.]

Molo was all over social media on April 5, after he was reportedly forced by his high school teachers to issue a public apology for a Facebook post that was critical of the Duterte administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.